Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – As they begin training camp activities in preparation for the 2021 Canada West season, the MacEwan Griffins men's soccer team announced Friday that one of their top starters is turning pro.
Michael Enes, who electrified with his speed and talent during a promising Canada West rookie season with the Griffins in 2019, has signed on with Portugal's Clube Desportivo de Sobrado.
"Obviously, we'll miss him greatly, not only on the pitch, but off the pitch – he's a great team guy who's very coachable," said Griffins head coach Adam Loga. "We've created a pretty good environment and atmosphere here for players to improve and develop, and I think it's shown in the last two years that they're coming in and getting what they need out of the program to develop as people and players.
"It's allowing them to pop on to the next level."
The opportunity is perfect for Enes, whose parents are Portuguese, allowing him to play there as a non-import.
"He's already over there on trial," said Loga. "He had a few offers with U23 programs and such, but he felt being with a first team in a lower tier – I believe it's third or fourth tier – would give him the opportunity to launchpad up and on.
"I think it will be a very good fit for him."
When the Griffins last played a full season before the pandemic in 2019, Enes tied for the team lead in goals with three, adding an assist in 14 games from an attacking midfield position.
"Michael Enes was tremendous for us," said Loga of the FC Edmonton Academy and Archbishop O'Leary product. "To play at the standard he did and make the impact he did as a rookie right out of high school is rare to have and rare to find.
"He had that ability to play that final ball in, had the ability to break lines and he was such a technician. You just knew if things fell in place for him and he put in the work that he'd have the opportunity to go to the next level."
Enes is actually the fourth Griffins player since 2020 to land a pro contract, but the only one of those to do so after suiting up for MacEwan. Previously, before they could don Griffins' silks, goalkeeper commits William Tonning, Darlington Murasiranwa and Shaban Kuquku turned pro in Sweden, with FC Edmonton and in Switzerland, respectively.
"It's big shoes to fill," said Loga of Enes' departure. "When a guy exits in the pathway to a better situation, it gives opportunity for others to come up and step in."
While it can be a bit bittersweet losing a player to the pro ranks, the Griffins are quickly gaining a reputation as a place where players can develop well and earn professional opportunities.
"Kudos to the staff and, to be completely honest, the players as well," said Loga. "We know as a program we don't necessarily have the infrastructure and the resources of some of the other programs within Canada West, but what we do have is great people.
"The standard of player we're recruiting is because of who we are in the room and who we are in the program. We're creating an atmosphere to allow them to develop and move on."